It Might As Well Be Spring
Wild Is the Wind
I'll Never Stop Loving You
La Belle Dame Sans Regret
Spring Can Really Hang You Up the Most
Always True to You In My Fashion
Whole (It Isn't Like Me)
The Folks Who Live On the Hill
Propelled by the Halle Orchestra and a cadre of Big Band supremos – among them trumpeter Mike Lovatt, saxophonist Iain Dixon, pianist Jason Rebello and
anchored by bassist Jeremy Brown and drummer Matt Skelton – Clare Teal has carved a splendid album. The trio of arrangers are Guy Barker, Grant Windsor,
A slow sense of foreboding opens Feeling Good, where a twisted note or two suggests Nina Simone in Teal’s adroit vocalizing; don’t forget this is
a British song courtesy of Anthony Newley and Leslie Bricusse. The windswept nature painting that ushers in Wild is the Wind – with swirling
strings to the fore – may seem an obvious enough trope but is a good setting for Teal’s characteristically sensitive and unexaggerated, lyric-conscious
She evokes some sultry Peggy Lee licks in Sans Souci, and that’s always a good thing in my book. Orchestrally things are never laid on too thick,
one of the great fears when a mixed-band of this kind conjoins. Thus, I'll Never Stop Loving You has a touch of Aaron Copland about the
introduction before the Big Band takes on its duties and Rebello launches a fine solo at the keyboard. Note, too, the appropriately Francophile orchestral
wind writing in Sting’s La Belle Dame Sans Regret which Teal sings in French. Teal evinces lyric intensity in the Tim Rice-Alan Menken song Never Again – something of the associative intensity that Carol Kidd often enshrines, though Teal’s voice is deeper.
Indeed, there’s much to like throughout these 14 tracks – the kinky boots intro to Always True to You In My Fashion, where later she also sings
with a degree of delicious mockery. She chooses songs well. I liked her own co-composition, a tender ballad called Whole (It Isn't Like Me); it
would be a good vehicle for Barb Jungr. She’s not afraid to sit out either – it’s fully a two-and-a-half-minute instrumental introduction to Secret Love, arranged by Guy Barker, before she comes in. And to end there’s the chanson lyricism of Paradisi Carousel, written by Teal
and her partner Amanda Louise Field – and it’s a fine end too.
In short, a lovely record.